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Opinion 16 Feb 2021 - 3 min read

The Work: CMOs Say - IAG's Brent Smart on ads that are kicking goals

By Brent Smart - CMO, IAG
Edgar Scissorhands

Brent Smart on the creative work that he thinks makes the grade. The IAG chief marketer and former ad agency exec picks out a big budget Super Bowl smash, somewhat reluctantly; an everyday local hero; and an ad that tries to be funny - and actually is.

I didn’t want to pick my favourite work until after the Super Bowl.

That one day of the year when people actually choose to watch the ads.

The stage for the world’s biggest brands to do their best work.

The Super Bowl always delivers.

Until this year.

Did Covid make brands gun shy? We can’t be too funny, because life is not funny right now. We can’t be too serious, because people need a break from all the seriousness.

What landed was a bunch of safe and flat work that fell back on the celebrity-crutch of big budgets.

It was genuinely hard to pick an ad I really liked from this year’s Super Bowl.

1. “Edgar Scissorhands”

But if I had to, which I do because of this very article, I’d go with “Edgar Scissorhands” from Cadillac.

It was faithful to one of my favourite Tim Burton films, from the very first frame opening on the pink house – Burton didn’t direct the spot, but he consulted and approved, and you can tell.

Amongst all the other lazy celebrity casting, here was the inspired casting of the so-hot-right-now Timothee Chalamet in the title role as Edward Scissorhands’ son, ably supported by Winona revisiting her original film role, except now she’s grown up and a devoted mum (and don’t we just love Winona as a devoted mum, see Stranger Things).

That’s some serious cultural cachet, with 3.4 million likes on Chalamet’s Instagram post building to over 60 million social impressions.

It’s a charming spot with some lovely moments, like Edgar deflating a football when he goes to catch it and getting his hands caught in a chain-link fence. All leading to a clever way to show the product feature of hands-free driving.

Maybe it’s just another nostalgic revisit of a cult-classic film from the 90s, like the Bill Murray “Groundhog Day” spot from last year’s Super Bowl.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for 90s cult-classics. 


Tooheys Proudly Ordinary outdoor ad: The Adelaide of beers

2. Tooheys Extra Dry “Proudly Ordinary”

What happened to Australian beer advertising? Big Ad, Beer Chase, Boonie Doll. There was a time when it was the best in the world.

I get it, the category is challenged. But dull advertising will only make things worse. It needs brave and bold ideas. Like the Tooheys Extra Dry “Proudly Ordinary” campaign.

It’s a long, long time ago that Tooheys Extra Dry made that Tongue ad that got everyone talking. It’s since been depositioned by craft beers and premium imports that make it look pretty average.

Instead of positioning the brand as something it’s not and trying to make it cool, they chose to embrace the uncomfortable truth of what the brand really is – a very ordinary beer. Most marketers get so obsessed with turning their brands into what they desperately want to be, they miss what they actually are.

Not this campaign. It is brutally honest and brilliantly written. The animated spot “Big Les” is like nothing else in the beer category. But it’s the posters that I love the most, with killer headlines like “Average at best, average at worst” and “The Adelaide of Beer”, which has shot into the number two spot on my best-ever-beer-copy-chart, behind the never to be beaten Carlton Draft strapline “Made from beer”.

Well done to the team at Lion, I’ll raise a schooner of New in your honour (I’d never drink that Tooheys Extra Dry).  


3. Setapp “Snake”

Great comedy work is hard to find. Because it’s hard to do.

You have to really go for it. The comedy bar is so high outside of advertising, you really can’t go “half-funny”. Or that crazy thing I’ve heard so many marketers say, “we want more of a smile, than a laugh”. You have to go for the laugh.

This spot from Droga5 London for the subscription service Setapp is the funniest work I’ve seen in a long time. A guy gets hypnotised to cure his fear of snakes, but the hypnotist gets distracted and doesn’t snap him out of it, so he goes on living life thinking he’s a snake. It’s completely original, beautifully crafted, wonderfully weird and very funny.

Even though it hyperbolises the benefit of “not being distracted” brilliantly, I don’t quite get how the product delivers on it. But if you’ve read this far you clearly don’t have a problem with being distracted and you don’t need Setapp anyway.

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